La Table Suisse
The Vegetarierbund vegetarians’ association provokes heated discussions through a fictitious restaurant that serves pets for dinner
Worldwide, more than 60 billion livestock animals are killed every year for human consumption. Even people who consider themselves animal-friendly consume meat and in doing so deny the simple fact that eating meat kills animals. The goal of the Vegetarierbund Deutschland and the network Beyond Carnism was thus to sensitise people to their hypocritical stance with respect to animals and inspire them to rethink their choices.
A restaurant that serves pets for dinner
The consumption of dog and cat meat has a long tradition in Switzerland. Thus, we opened the first Swiss restaurant that has dishes using dog and cat meat on the menu: La Table Suisse.
The heart of the campaign was a PR film featuring a young chef presenting his daily work. Speciality of the house is a fresh interpretation of one of his grandmother’s recipes: the “Büsirücken” – cat loin roast.
The film aired on YouTube and linked to the restaurant’s homepage, where users could read about their philosophy and La Table’s menu or even make a reservation. The restaurant had a Facebook page as well. On Facebook, the chef reported on recent news and responded to questions asked by the annoyed and offended online community. What no one could have guessed is that La Table only existed on the Internet. The linking of the film to additional digital profiles was enough to make the restaurant appear to be real.
Influencers choosing the vegetarian lifestyle such as Moby and Miley Cyrus helped to spread the video online – and people were shocked. Within just a few days, the restaurant’s Facebook page was inundated with comments. In addition to comments solely expressing shock or hatred, a heated discussion developed on the central question of why the majority of people find it a matter of course to eat livestock but the mere existence of a restaurant that has pets on the menu incites such an outcry.
When the outrage had reached its apex, we let the cat out of the bag: La Table Suisse never actually existed. The former URL of the restaurant homepage now led to a page announcing that the Vegetarierbund Deutschland and Beyond Carnism were behind the campaign.
International awareness – without pointing fingers
Media in 25 countries reported on the “pet meat restaurant” and international animal rights organisations praised the project. In total, the campaign reached ten million people on four continents – and thus also its main objective. We communicated our message without pointing fingers while nevertheless highlighting it through radical measures. Particularly in the era of the online shitstorm, this was an especially courageous campaign. The fact that the restaurant was staged to look convincingly real online and that it captured people’s attention over a longer period of time made sure that Vebu was in international spotlight for much longer than just the moment of surprise revelation.